6 Guidelines for Hiring Your First Employee

Apr 24, 2018 | General

While a franchisor will help you in most aspects of running your business, including site selection, training and marketing, it’s up to you, the franchisee, to do your own hiring. When you’re a brand new business owner, hiring that first employee can be a daunting task.

Hire the right person, and your business will flourish. Hire the wrong person and it could sink your business before you even really get going. It may seem a little melodramatic at first to say that one bad hire could have such a devastating effect on your business, but the smaller and younger a business is, the more vulnerable it is.

If you are running a small startup where you are the owner/operator to start with and you hire as you grow, that first person you hire is going to represent 50% of your workforce and then 33% and 25% etc. as you grow.

One bad employee — especially that all-important initial employee — can garner you too many negative reviews to recover from as you’re trying to establish your reputation, which can be the death knell for a startup, even if it has the backing of a franchise brand.

With that in mind, here are six tips for hiring your first employee:

1. Spend an appropriate amount of time on your first hire.

How much is an appropriate amount of time? The short answer is: a lot.

Y Combinator president Sam Altman says a mediocre hire, which he describes as someone who doesn’t believe with all their heart and soul in what you’re doing, can poison the corporate culture of a startup.

He points to the example of Airbnb. The team at that company spend five whole months recruiting and interviewing for their first employee because they wanted to make sure the person truly believed in the company’s vision and wouldn’t flee at the first sign of crisis, which all small businesses face sooner or later.  

Altman recommends spending 25% of your time on that first hire. Obviously you’ll be busy getting a new business off the ground, but doing it with the help of the right employee will make it easier.

2. Hire your first employee based on what they’ve accomplished.

Resist hiring people who aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, but who you believe will “grow into the position.” This can often happen when you interview someone who you like as a person, but who doesn’t quite have the experience or skills you’re looking for.

But, when hiring your first employee, you don’t just need them to have a good personality. They should be as close to perfect for the position as possible. Judge them by their past accomplishments rather than just going with your gut feeling about whether they have what it takes to blossom into something they haven’t proven themselves to be yet.

Keep your questions focussed on their past accomplishments, prior work experience and what they are motivated and excited by.

3. Remember you’re building your corporate culture starting with this person.

You start the process of establishing your corporate culture before you even begin hiring people. Corporate culture starts with leadership and that means it starts with you and carries over to your first hire. When you hire this person, you are establishing the process and the guidelines for hiring future employees.

Prior to interviewing anyone, draw up a list of traits you want your corporate culture to convey to the outside world and also inwardly to your workforce and hire someone who you believe possesses these traits and who can help your business portray these traits.

Your first hire should be as invested in your business’ success as you are because they essentially become part of the founding process of your company.

4. Invest in your first employee.

Provide your first employee with the resources and training to help them become the best possible version of themselves. Your franchisor will likely be able to help you with training resources.

If this person ends up staying with you for a long time, you are essentially investing in their future, which will also be an investment in your company’s future. Treat this hire as such.

5. Trust your first employee.

As a new business owner, it can be difficult to delegate responsibility to others. If you want your business to grow, though, it has to be scalable and that means you are going to have to trust others to make decisions when you are busy doing other things. This means you’re going to have to trust your first employee to work independently and give them more responsibility as your business flourishes. If you have hired the right person, then you should have no problem doing this.

6. Drop that axe if you have to.

If your first hire isn’t cutting it, cut them loose. You owe it to your company and that employee to recognize when they are not a right fit and let them go so they can move on with the rest of their life and your business can move on with someone better suited to that position.

You can never been too diligent when hiring your first employee because they set the tone for the rest of your employee hiring. Spend an appropriate amount of time hiring the right person to help your business flourish. If you haven’t yet decided which franchise to join, let FranNet help you with a free FranNet franchise search and consultation today.